Kripalu = Compassion

Compassion is my word for the new year. It was like our teacher was speaking directly to me during my most recent drop-in yoga class at Balance Wellness Studio on St. Simons Island, Georgia. Our instructor, Brian is a Kripalu trained teacher who volunteers at Balance every Sunday afternoon to teach a gentle by-donation class to the community.

I try to be compassionate to others, give to the needy when I can, love on people who are hurting, listen when a friend needs it…but why is it so hard to have compassion for myself? This is my yoga practice for the year – to be more compassionate to myself.

During practice, each time Brian suggested that we take a moment to look within, to see what our mind was doing and how our bodies were feeling I was aghast by what was going on within me. Over and over again I was feeling that I needed to do the poses better, push further, extend more, try HARDER…..Instead of just relaxing, letting myself BE. Not very compassionate.

Compassion is important in other parts of our lives as well as our yoga practice. How do you speak to yourself inside your head? Do you speak badly about parts of your body? Do you say to yourself, “If only I were (fill in the blank) smarter, taller, thinner, prettier? Do you hold yourself accountable for things that really are not your fault? Do you apologize incessantly to make others feel better? Do you do things for others that you really don’t want to do? Do you have a hard time telling others no? Do you find at the end of the day that you gave up everything you wanted to do for someone or something else?

What about forgiveness? Do you hold on to things that happened in the past? Do you continue to punish yourself for mistakes or bad choices? Do you punish yourself by continual mental flagellation?

Being compassionate with ourselves is a practice. It’s something we have to do in small steps.  Find a little time in your day to do something for yourself – then guard that time. Don’t give it up easily. Let that time be yours for a cup of tea, some time on your mat, meditation, coloring or whatever it is that YOU love. When we take time to take care for ourselves that will help us be more ready, capable and balanced to help others when they need it.

If you don’t take care of you, who will?

Thanks for the the reminder, Brian! I needed it!

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